Letter From the Director: Engagement With Patient Advocacy and Community Groups Is Core to NIAMS’ Mission

Lindsey A. Criswell, M.D., M.P.H., D.Sc.

Since joining NIAMS in 2021, I have been struck by how much our mission is driven by meaningful interactions with patient advocacy and other community groups interested in research related to bones, joints, muscles, and skin. This point was driven home this year with two terrific collaborative events: a multi-day meeting to gather input for the NIAMS 2025–2029 Strategic Plan and the 2023 NIAMS Coalition Outreach and Education Meeting.

Read the full Director's Letter.


Monica Bertagnolli

Monica Bertagnolli, M.D., Takes the Helm at NIH

On November 9, 2023, Monica M. Bertagnolli, M.D., became the 17th director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She is the first surgeon and the second woman to hold the position.

NIAMS Request for Information on Themes for the NIAMS Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2025–2029

NIAMS is updating its Strategic Plan to help guide the research, training, and information dissemination programs it supports for fiscal years 2025 through 2029. The institute invites feedback on the cross-cutting, thematic research opportunities that position the institute to make a difference in the lives of all Americans. With input gathered in response to a July 2023 Request for Information and from a meeting in September attended by approximately 160 researchers, patient representatives, and staff from other federal entities, NIAMS requests your comments on the ideas obtained to date for the 2025–2029 Strategic Plan. The deadline for submitting responses has been extended to January 15, 2024. 

Study Identifies Subtypes of Inflammation in People With Rheumatoid Arthritis

In a study recently published in Nature, a team of researchers studied more than 314,000 cells from samples of synovial tissues—specialized tissues that lubricate and cushion the joint but become inflamed in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The autoimmune disease causes joint inflammation, pain, and stiffness. There are several treatment options to control inflammation, but response to therapy varies, and some people with RA never reach remission, suggesting there may be different drivers of inflammation. The new findings could inform future treatment options.

Timothy Bhattacharyya

Higher Income and Longer Working Years Are Linked to Better Mobility: Longitudinal Study Suggests Enhanced Musculoskeletal Health Can Prolong Working Years and Is Associated With Higher Income

A study on the relationship between mobility and income showed that better mobility was strongly associated with higher income and longer working years in adults. The findings also suggest that maintaining mobility was linked to greater earnings over time. The study was led by Timothy Bhattacharyya, M.D., head of the NIAMS Clinical and Investigative Orthopedics Surgery Unit.

NIAMS Coalition group

NIAMS Coalition 2023 Outreach and Education Meeting Held at NIH

NIAMS held its ninth Coalition Outreach and Education Meeting on September 19, at the Natcher Conference Center on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The NIAMS Coalition is an independent group of more than 95 professional and voluntary organizations interested in the research and mission areas of NIAMS. Approximately 50 representatives from more than 40 Coalition organizations joined NIAMS staff and speakers to total 80 attendees at this meeting.

Mariana Kaplan

NIAMS’ Mariana Kaplan Named NIH Distinguished Investigator

Mariana Kaplan, M.D., a longstanding NIAMS researcher and leader, has been promoted to the title of NIH Distinguished Investigator. NIH Distinguished Investigators have established a record of career-high achievements and are considered NIH’s most preeminent Senior Investigators – an honor which only 2 to 3 percent of investigators receive – with entrance requiring a special peer-review process and approval by the NIH Director. Dr. Kaplan is NIAMS’ Deputy Scientific Director and serves as Chief of the Systemic Autoimmunity Branch.

Bioprinted skin substitutes

Can Bioprinted Skin Substitutes Replace Traditional Grafts for Treating Burn Injuries and Other Serious Skin Wounds?

NIAMS-funded researchers showed that bioprinted skin substitutes may serve as a promising alternative to traditional skin grafts in preclinical studies. 

Lung infection

Therapeutic Nanocarriers Reduce Lung Inflammation in Mice

In a study in mice, NIAMS-funded researchers tested extracellular vesicles from mouse skin as nanocarriers for anti-inflammatory cytokines, finding that an administration of the engineered nanocarriers reduced lung inflammation and tissue damage in a short amount of time.

Inflamed skin

Synthetic Melanin Nanoparticles for Wound Healing

NIAMS-supported researchers developed synthetic nanoparticles made of the skin pigment melanin, and tested them on skin wounds in mice and human skin samples. The nanoparticles sped up the healing of skin injuries. These findings suggest that topical synthetic melanin could be a promising therapy to speed wound healing.

Dr. Dolen Perkins-Valdez

NIAMS Learns Lessons From One of Medicine’s Forgotten Darker Moments

When NIAMS intramural researchers recently gathered for the institute’s annual Intramural Research Program scientific retreat, they heard many talks about cutting-edge research from esteemed colleagues, but they also learned another lesson about medicine’s darker history. Dr. Dolen Perkins-Valdez, associate professor of literature at American University and self-described chronicler of American historical life, discussed her own research into a little-known incident that took place in 1970s Montgomery, Alabama, involving the Relf family.

A woman working on a computer

NIH Awards $9.7 Million to Advance the Use of All of Us Research Program Dataset

The NIH All of Us Research Program and 10 partner institutes, centers, and offices have funded 26 research projects to support novel analyses and tool development using All of Us data. The 2-year awards advance impactful research in high-priority NIH mission areas.

NIAMS is managing one of the awards: Elucidating Social Determinants and Mental Health Needs to Achieve Equity in Rheumatic Disease Care.


NINDS Small Business Funding Leads to New Therapy for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

ReveraGen BioPharma, a company supported by a small business grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for Agamree (vamorolone) for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), in children and adults ages 2 years and older. NIAMS and other NIH institutes supported the clinical trials and other efforts that led to the new treatment.

Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Funding Plan

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which includes NIH, is operating under the “Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2024” (H.R. 6363) signed by President Biden on November 16, 2023. This Act  continues government operations through February 2, 2024, at the FY 2023 enacted level.

COVID-19 Updates: Keep up with the latest on COVID-19 with health information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and research from NIH.


Adipocytes derived from a muscle fiber of Pompe disease mouse

Spotlight on Scientific Imagery: Adipocytes From Mouse Fiber of Pompe Disease

This image shows adipocytes derived from a muscle fiber of Pompe disease mouse. Pompe disease is a rare genetic disorder that results in profound muscle weakness. The disease is caused by mutations in the gene that instructs the body to make an enzyme called acid alpha-glucosidase.

Photo Credit: NIAMS Intramural Research Program

Funding Opportunities

Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Promoting Research on COVID-19 and Rheumatic, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NOT-AR-23-008)

This Notice applies to applicable funding opportunities for due dates through January 8, 2024.

Simplified Review Framework for NIH Research Project Grant Applications (NOT-OD-24-010)

For most peer-reviewed research project grant applications beginning with submissions for due dates on or after January 25, 2025. 

View November 3 online briefing, presentation slides [PPT–2.1 MB], and transcript [PDF–176 KB].

Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (Admin Supp Clinical Trial Not Allowed) (PA-23-189)

NIAMS accepts and reviews applications on a continuous basis between October 1, 2023, and April 15, 2024. Find additional NIAMS-specific information on the NIAMS Diversity Supplement Program webpage.

All Open HEAL Opportunities List

Information about the NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®, an NIH-wide effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis, can be found on the HEAL website.

Stay Updated About Funding Announcements

Get information about grants and funding opportunities, subscribe to funding-dedicated email newsletters, including periodic NIAMS Funding Alerts and a monthly NIAMS Funding News email, and follow our X (formerly Twitter) account (@NIAMSFunding) focused on funding opportunities. Also check out the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, the primary source for information about NIH funding opportunities, and  request a weekly Table of Contents from the NIH Guide. In addition, the NIAMS website provides comprehensive information on NIAMS-related grants and processes.


NIAMS Advisory Council

The next NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting will be held virtually on January 30, 2024. The meeting will be available for viewing via the NIH videocasting service. Watch a videocast recording of the previous NIAMS Advisory Council Meeting on August 29, 2023.

Advisory council

Upcoming Lecture:

Prioritizing Genetics to Reduce Existing Health Disparities
Nancy J. Cox, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt Brain Institute
February 7, 2024   
2 to 3 p.m. ET
Videocast available

NIH Science Lectures and Events Available via Internet

Rare Disease Day at NIH 2024
February 29, 2024
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET
Videocast available

Look for past videocasts, including:

For additional online science seminars and events hosted by the NIH, view the NIH VideoCast Future Events and the NIH calendar.